Characterizing Natural Resources For Sustainable Agriculture In The Semi-Arid Tropics uri icon


  • The natural resources of a country are its most sacred endowment. Itis a base on which all life depends and in most countries of the world, iathe life support system of the country. In the recent past, with burgeoningpopulations and the national goals of seeking sell-sufficiency in food andfiher production, the resource base is slowly being stripped, oftenir~eversibly. The main result is man-induced degradation of land resourcesthrough Inadvertent, inappropriate or misuse of technological innovations.Even in the United States, until recently about 3 billion hectares of topsoil was lost annually with an economic cost of between 3 to 6 billiondollars (Napier, 1986). Few estimates of the concomitant loss of soilfertility are available. In Zimbabwe, a PA0 study indicated that on anaverage, 1.6 million tons of nitrogen and 0.24 million tons of phosphorusare lost per year through erosion and the cost to replace these nutrientswould exceed US$ 1.5 billion (Stocking, 1986). This is an amount which mostcountries cannot afford for maintenance of their agricultural sector. Whendegradation becomes a continuing process, yields decline and the farmer isforced to eke a living on another piece of land, which in most instancesmay be a fragile ecosystem -- steeplands or coastal swamps -- since much ofthe better arable land is already under cultivation. The system thenbrcollea iterative to the determinant of all

publication date

  • 1990